2020 has been a difficult year for working parents with children at home due to online schooling, and many have made the hard choice to leave their permanent law firm jobs. While legal work picked up in the fall, many states are beginning to impose new stay-at-home orders, making the legal job market in 2021 even more unpredictable. Many lawyers may be wondering about their options, whether they should stay at a full-time job, or whether part-time freelance legal work is a better fit.
Travis Thickstun recently published an article in the ABA Student Lawyer Magazine and Before the Bar blog: “Do you actually need a full-time job? Try freelance legal work.” While his article was directed at law students, it provides a comprehensive review of freelance legal work that applies to all lawyers considering their options.
The article discusses freelance lawyer rates, quoting Montage Legal Group’s owners, Laurie Rowen and Erin Giglia:
A freelance lawyer’s rate is not that lawyer’s billable rate, she added. If, for example, the law firm would pay $200,000 to hire an associate to bill 2,000 hours per year, expect to be paid about $100 as a freelance lawyer.
“The law firm for which the freelance lawyer works will bill that freelancer out at a much higher rate to their own clients, making a profit off the freelance lawyer’s rate,” Rowen said. “The freelance lawyer’s rate is more in line with what the law firm could pay hourly to hire a full-time associate.”
It also addresses the upside of freelance legal work, stating “The primary benefit of freelance work is flexibility and freedom. Freelancers can take on projects when they have time and pull back when they’re too busy. They can take on projects in areas of law that they love and pass on areas of law that aren’t their favorite.” While freelance legal work offers flexibility, the article notes several difficulties of freelance legal work, including unpredictability of hours and income.
Thickstun’s article also offered advice for freelance lawyers including being extra responsive and checking in with their clients, avoiding certain titles that carry imputed conflicts of interest, and how to develop business during a pandemic where in-person networking is not an option.
Freelance legal work has positives and negatives. The flexibility and ability to address many other life demands makes freelance legal work an attractive option for many attorneys.
Thank you Travis Thickstun for reaching out to Montage Legal Group. We are always happy to provide a platform for freelance attorneys!